A sporting chance

Two sporting events cradling our collective national pride fall on this weekend. By Monday we could either be in collective mourning or be celebrating achievements.

On Sunday the Springboks take on Australia for a place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals and Bafana Bafana hope to secure qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 against Sierra Leone on Saturday.

The assignments are vastly different, but are equally important.

A win for the Boks against the Aussies will not only pour cold water on the criticism of coach Pieter de Villiers and his ability to navigate the side through the knockout stages, but will also preserve our stellar record at the tournament. Having played only four so far, and having won on home soil in 1995 on debut and in France in 2007, the Springboks are well placed to put on another class act in the sport’s global showpiece. It will not be easy going because of the injuries to Frans Steyn and Bakkies Botha.

If Bafana Bafana manages to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea it will signal the continued march into a new era of positivity in South African football. Since Pitso Mosimane was appointed coach of the national side after the disastrous 2010 Fifa World Cup, things have been steadily improving for Bafana — something that will be confirmed should they qualify.

It will be no mean feat, as our record in a competition we won on debut in 1996 has steadily declined since. The side did not even qualify for the last showpiece, in Angola, in 2010.

Like the Bokke, Bafana don’t have it easy.

A mere victory against Sierra Leone will not do it. Our fate rests in the hands of Egypt which faces Niger at the same time. With Niger atop Group G on nine points and South Africa one point behind, hopefully the Egyptians can do us a favour.

The sweet smell of victory can be intoxicating. But the stench of losing can attack your senses. Let’s hope by Monday morning Bafana and the Bokke will again have buoyed up the nation with some good news in the sports arena.

Read the first half of the editorial “ANC’s democratic dissonance

View our Rugby World Cup special report for the latest news, features, match reports and multimedia here.

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